It has been suggested by esoteric writers of the occult revival such as John Yarker and Arthur Edward Waite that the Rose Croix degree was the ultimate degree practiced by the Rite de Elus Coens in the later eighteenth century. The degree certainly became a ne plus ultra grade practiced in Knights Templar Encampments in England in the early nineteenth century as it became a much sought after degree.
In my forthcoming book The Lost Rites and Rituals of Freemasonry, I will attempt to unravel the complex history of the Rose Croix degree, and indeed many more of the lost Rites and rituals of Freemasonry. The degree itself appears to have changed over time and was adapted depending on what particular Rite practiced it.
The Rose Croix is now the 18th degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite and is considered a central degree within the Rite, with its enigmatic symbol of the pelican pecking her own breast so that her young can feed off her life-blood, its themes of sacrifice, resurrection and rebirth resonate to the very heart of Freemasonry itself. The symbol of the rose itself being one of sacred secrecy.
The new book Lost Rites and Rituals of Freemasonry will be out late August 2017.